Pepe Builds a Nest

Stories for the Early Years (Book 1)

Children - Grade K-3rd
50 Pages
Reviewed on 01/02/2017
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Author Biography

Theodore J. Cohen, PhD, holds three degrees in the physical sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has been an engineer and scientist for more than 45 years. From December 1961 through early March 1962, he participated in the 16th Chilean Expedition to the Antarctic. The U.S. Board of Geographic Names in October, 1964, named the geographical feature Cohen Islands, located at 63° 18' S.latitude, 57° 53' W. longitude, in the Cape Legoupil area, Antarctica, in his honor. In addition to his adult novels (primarily mystery/thrillers), he also writes Young Adult (YA) novels under the pen name "Alyssa Devine."

    Book Review

Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite

Lyrical and rhythmic, Pepe Builds a Nest by Theodore Jerome Cohen is a priceless gem that young readers will devour with awesome delight. I read it with my six-year-old son and he was thrilled. It’s a beautiful story simply told, a story about a penguin named Pepe who builds his nest of rocks, but when he was ready to create the masterpiece for himself and Miss Amber, the bully Otto comes along and begins to steal his stones. Can Pepe stand up to him? How things turn out is the beauty of this story and readers will love the part played by others.

Although this book is written for kids, I enjoyed it, and it has lessons that grownups can apply to their own lives and thoughts they should ponder on, because grownups are the worst bullies. The poetry is so beautiful one gets the feeling they are listening to a beautiful song. Listen to the opening lines:

“Pepe the Penguin, a bright lad of one,
looked up to the sky and welcomed the sun.
The long night was over, no time to rest.
It was time to rejoice and build his first nest.”

And so the music goes on and on until Otto comes along and sets his ugly game into motion:

“Otto, the bully, watched Pepe with glee.
“I’ll steal his rocks, just you watch me!”
“His nest is so big, his pile is so high,
he won’t miss many, I’ll give it a try.”

Pepe Builds a Nest is rich with imagery and sound; the rhyme is perfect and it will allow young readers to build their vocabulary and learn to appreciate poetry as they get absorbed into the steady rhythm of the lyrical tale. The illustrations are well done, adding a new feel to an already beautiful story. I won’t hesitate to recommend this book as a perfect addition to kids’ libraries at home.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Pepe is a penguin. He knows it’s going to be a busy day. He has to build his nest, a nest fit for a queen, his queen. The nest is made of stones and while Pepe laboriously collects one stone after another, a jealous bully penguin, Otto, seizes the opportunity to steal Pepe’s stones while he’s out looking for more. Pepe soon catches on and confronts the bully. His other penguin friends back him up and the bully gives in and helps Pepe rebuild his nest. Otto and Pepe, as they work together, become good friends.

Theodore Jerome Cohen’s colorful picture book story, Pepe Builds a Nest, deals with complex issues that all young children must face: bullying and making choices. He chooses a penguin to relate the story in an interesting and informative approach. While outlining the issues, the author also teaches young readers about penguins, how industrious they are, and how they build their nests. The story is told in rhyming verse and presents its message simply. As the penguins point out to the bully, “We all can make choices. What’s important in life is that you should play fair.”

In any group of living beings, there is always at least one who stands out as thinking too highly of themselves. In this story, it’s Otto. He’s bigger than Pepe and he thinks he can get away with anything. The interesting thing is that Otto works so hard to cheat Pepe, young readers might wonder why he didn’t just work hard to build his own nest the fair way in the first place. Life is all about choices and playing fair. An informative way of teaching valuable life lessons.

Rosie Malezer

Pepe Builds a Nest is a children’s book, written in rhyme by Theodore Jerome Cohen. Pepe the Penguin smiles as a new day dawns for it is time to build a nest for his bride, Miss Amber. As an Adélie penguin, Pepe’s nest will be made of stones. He quickly gets busy, working hard to find the best and brightest stones on the shore and among the rocks but, when his back is turned, Otto – a bully and a thief – lazily decides that he will steal all of Pepe’s stones. Otto does not want to do any hard work, and it seems that all of Pepe’s stones are prettier than anybody else’s. When Pepe wises up to the fact that he is being robbed, he confronts Otto, catching him in the act. At first, Otto doesn’t want to give the stolen property back, but Pepe’s friends, Clyde, Bill and Claire are there to lend their friend backup, should Otto continue to misbehave. When several penguins confront Otto over his wrongdoing, it leads to his apology to Pepe before returning all of the stones. With Pepe’s nest now as beautiful as it once was, Miss Amber has the perfect nest to lay her eggs.

I do enjoy stories which give animals a human persona, and Theodore Jerome Cohen has done an outstanding job at presenting these beautiful and lively animals within an imaginative tale. Children tend to relate easier to animals in a story when the animals are given human personalities akin to their own. Pepe Builds a Nest is well-written, showing many essential personality traits such as friendship, love, family and loyalty, as well as how to deal with bullying thieves when they strike. Otto, the bully, is shown as a loner who prefers to be on his own and has no friends, whereas Pepe is portrayed as caring, hard-working and honest, surrounded by friends who have his back. I was delighted with the ongoing dialogue in this educational book, which also teaches the behavioral patterns of the Adélie penguin during mating season. I recommend this book to early readers aged 4-7, so that they may see the beauty and magnificence in such majestic creatures, whilst engaging the tale of how Pepe overcame hurdles in order to make his nest.

Lesa McKee

Pepe Builds a Nest by Theodore Jerome Cohen is an engaging children’s story that focuses on the life of Pepe the Penguin. The time has come for Pepe’s group of penguins to build their nests. Each penguin begins their search for the perfect material to build their new home … a collection of rocks. And the brighter, the better! Pepe seems to discover the best rocks of all which brings a flock of admirers to his nest. However, it causes some jealousy in one very naughty penguin, the group bully, Otto. He decides he has to have Pepe's rocks for himself to make the very best nest, even if he has to steal them. Yikes! How will Pepe handle it when the worst happens and he finds his rocks are missing?

I love how Theodore Jerome Cohen showcases adorable penguin characters, a grand wintry setting of snow and ice, and fine rhymes throughout his story, Pepe Builds a Nest. Children will be rooting for Pepe while learning some great lessons such as how envy can build up and lead to a sense of entitlement and thievery, and how being a good friend means you’re happy for others, even when they have nicer things than you. Readers also learn there’s power in numbers when it comes to standing up to a bully.

This book is just the right length for children, and the simple illustrations add a fun touch of whimsy to Pepe’s world. This is the perfect read to chase away those winter blahs and celebrate the chilly season instead. I highly recommend Pepe Builds a Nest to kids of any climate!

Jack Magnus

Pepe Builds a Nest is a children's animal book written by Theodore Jerome Cohen. Cohen was a member of the 16th Chilean Expedition to the Antarctic from December 1961 through March 1962. Pepe, the penguin, was one year old, and the sun had finally returned. He knew he had to make his nest so he could find a mate and start a family. Pepe needed stones, lots of them, to make the best and highest nest. He searched far and wide, kept on finding his stones and, one by one, bringing them to the place where he was building that nest. He wasn't the only penguin who needed a nest. All his friends were busily gathering stones and making their own nests. Otto, who was bigger than most and a bit of a bully, watched Pepe as he was hard at work. Otto figured that the best way for him to build his nest was to borrow some of Pepe's stones. After all, Pepe had so many that he probably wouldn't miss a stone, or two, or even three.

Theodore Jerome Cohen's children's nature book, Pepe Builds a Nest, teaches children about penguins and their nesting habits as it discusses the very real problem of bullying and bullies. I loved the illustrations Cohen selected for his story. They fitted the story perfectly. The story itself is both informative and entertaining as the author uses a light rhyme scheme throughout that never overwhelms the subject matter. His introduction of the bully Otto both highlights the facts that bullies exist -- even in the natural world -- and that it's a good thing to stand up to them. Who would have thought that a nest of stones could be so appealing? I learned quite a bit from this gentle and disarming tale, and think it's a grand selection for story time. It's also perfect for new readers to try on their own. Pepe Builds a Nest is most highly recommended.

Edward Levy

Having been a fan of Mr. Cohen for some time, when I found out the he had written a children’s book I was curious to see if this was something my granddaughter might be interested in. Since the book is written for 1st and 2nd graders my granddaughter is too old but, since I had the book, I read it.

Mr. Cohen’s subject is bullying and he seems to be making two points. First, being a bully, or bullying someone, is a matter of choice and good people choose not to be bullies. Second, if you are being bullied or you see someone being bullied there are things you can do.

Using delightful illustrations and words well chosen for his target readership Mr. Cohen makes his point in a manner that speaks to his audience but does not speak down to them. Your child might be able to read this by his or her self, and that’s good, but if he or she needs some help that’s even better. It will give you another chance to interact with your child and reinforce Mr. Cohen’s message.

In summary, if you have a child in the target age you might very well wish to spend a few dollars and get this excellent book.

Maryann Fedorko

Love this book. This book belongs in all classrooms. The story helps young children identify and resolve wrong choices while enjoying a delightful book complete with beautiful penguin pictures and story verse.

Heather Bhatt: Special Ed

Clever and accurate, this book weaves together the behaviors of penguins while showing children how to resolve conflict in a compassionate way. My courtesy copy, gifted by Mr. Theodore Jerome Cohen himself, will live in my first grade library for years to come.

Gary Sorkin

For Pacific Book Review

Pepe is a Penguin and lives in Antarctica. Award-winning author Theodore Jerome Cohen met Pepe in real life years ago, on an expedition to that part of the world. Now he tells children a tale about Pepe in his book Pepe Builds a Nest.

Penguins, as we all know are one of God’s most adorable creatures; having to survive the most extreme weather on Earth during the frigid long nights of winter. In order to do so, they need to build a simple nest, out of stones, to anchor themselves along with their eggs so the next generation can be born to survive. In this story, Pepe built a very nice nest, but this bigger Penguin named Otto was lazy and stole some of Pepe’s rocks for himself. After an incident where the other Penguins came to Pepe’s aid, Otto backed down from fighting and returned the rocks to Pepe. Pepe and Ms. Amber, his mate for life, go on to hold wings and grow their family, happily ever after.

Sounds simple? However sometimes the simplicity of creating a story for children which will imprint on their malleable minds requires the skill of a virtuoso. This book
reminded me of how Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed Ah vous dirai-je, Maman? (Ah, Will I tell you Mom?) the melody we all have come to love as Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.

Cohen scribes his words with a syllabic beat of an iambic rhyme to lull the intended audience into a safe and cozy place; filled with fanciful characters to cast off to
dreamland those innocent young minds. His creation is more than just an illustrated children’s book, but rather a portal of imagination to embark upon a voyage. Cohen’s
wordsmithing in crafting this story is both smooth and enjoyably fluent, never seeming awkward nor strained, as the words flow beautifully off the pages like musical notes off of sheet music.

Using a computerized artistic “brush” filter-effect over photographs for his illustrations, the images of Pepe and others portray the sentiments of the storyline of each of the opposing pages of prose; adding the combination of sight to the sound when being read the story - or for older children reading it by themselves, allowing their own voice in their mind to interpret the words while seeing the pictures of Pepe, Otto and Ms. Amber. Every worthwhile story needs a moral, and Pepe Builds a Nest certainly delivers.

Surely Theodore Jerome Cohen’s book will become a childhood favorite and lay stake to a well-deserved place on a family’s library shelf. “Move over, Happy Feet, there’s a new bird in town!”

Feathered Quill Book Revi

Pepe the Penguin is so happy! Winter is over and spring has finally arrived. He stretches his wings, waddles around and then decides that he better get down to business and start building his first nest.

As Pepe walks around the "rookery" (a breeding area for animals such as birds), his friends tell him that they all need to collect stones for their nests. "Stones?" Pepe asks. "Yes," his friends tell him. They explain that stones are needed to build nests and they all must have wonderful nests.

It doesn't take long for Pepe to find a wonderful rock, a rock so lovely that it will make the perfect first stone for his nest. Then he's off to collect more stones. As Pepe searches for stones, he realizes that it is a lot of work to build a nest, but he knows that it has to be done so he doesn't stop. He searches and searches for stones, and carefully places each one that he finds on his nest. Soon Pepe has the most wonderful nest - a nest that will be perfect for his "Queen."

As Pepe's nest grows in size and beauty, it catches the attention of Otto, the bully of the colony. The bully waits until Pepe leaves his nest in search of another stone and then Otto creeps in, and steals first one stone, then another and another. Pepe soon discovers what Otto is doing, but how will the young penguin deal with the bully?

Author Theodore Jerome Cohen is principally known for his many adult novels, but with this newest writing endeavor, he has dipped his talented quill into the realm of children's books. As a scientist with three degrees in the physical sciences, Cohen spent some time in the early 60s studying in Antarctica. It was there that he met the stars of Pepe Builds a Nest, and these adorable and fascinating birds piqued his interest and the story of Pepe was born. But Pepe isn't just a story about penguins - it's a fun story that also deals with a very important topic for children. Tackling the sensitive subject of bullying, the author shows young readers how to handle a bully with the use of an easy rhyming verse and photos of real penguins. Kids will love following Pepe build his nest and at the same time learn how to handle a bully.

Quill says: A delightful story that tackles an important topic - bullying - in a gentle way that children will understand, while also educating readers on the life of penguins in Antarctica.

Elizabeth Carr

For PennyMindingMom

Like most children, mine argue with each other a lot. While it’s tempting to step in the middle and resolve it myself, I try to stand back and let them come to a resolution themselves. Some days that is the hardest thing to do, especially when I can an easy way to solve the problem. As a parent it’s important to help your child learn to resolve conflicts on their own. “Pepe Builds a Nest” shows how Pepe handles a conflict with another Penguin who threatens his nest.

“Pepe Builds a Nest,” by Theodore Jerome Cohen, is the story of a penguin named Pepe. Pepe and Miss Amber need a nest and it’s up to Pepe to build it. He searches high and low for the best rocks to build a perfect home but another penguin keeps stealing his stones. Discover how Pepe and his friends work together to resolve the problem.

Written for children in grades 1 and 2, “Pepe Builds a Nest” addresses the important topic of bullying. We like to think that bullying doesn’t happen, but it does and it needs to be talked about. Our children need to know how to recognize when we or a friend is being bullied and how to deal with the situation. The story reinforces the idea that it’s important to stand up for ourselves and others when we feel bullied.

“Pepe Builds a Nest” reminds us that there are consequences to each choice we make. When Otto sees Pepe’s nest of stones he is jealous and makes the poor decision to steal his stones. Take this time to talk to your little ones about what they would do differently than Otto.

The story also demonstrates how we can find friends in unlikely places. Pepe’s story is one that my daughter can relate to. Last year she encountered a bully at school and like Pepe, instead of retaliating she decided to be his friend.

The illustrations are simply adorable. My children loved the penguins. Our favourite page is the one of Otto tip-toeing (can penguins tip-toe?) over to steal the stones. The story is easily read aloud, perfect for reading in the classroom. The author has even included links to some penguin activities on his website. My daughter loved the last image in the book the best, a picture of Mr. Cohen and the penguins in Antarctica.

“Pepe Builds a Nest” is a beautiful story about two penguins that become unlikely friends. Check out “Pepe Builds a Nest” on Mr. Cohen’s website to learn more